The club sent 3 teams to the Birmingham Table Tennis Academy to compete on Day 1 of the National Junior League at the weekend. The 14 teams were split into 3 parallel divisions with seeded sides in each.
Lillington A found themselves in a division of 6 and played 5 matches consisting of 6 rubbers. Despite having to compete before the local Leamington League has re-started, the A team played to the top of their ability and swept away their 5 opponents with ease. Westfield of Wellingborough, Birmingham 4, Birmingham 3, Colebridge B and Cheslay Tigers of Walsall all failed to secure a point against their Lillington opponents who had 12 year old Rex Wong playing at number one. Eduardo Bolanos and Nicholas Ho gave impressive support.
The B and C teams were placed in divisions of 4 and played 9 rubbers in each match. The B side lost 3-6 to Birmingham 1, 4-5 to Cheslyn Lions but collared Colebridge C 8-1. Jun Chung won 6 singles, Dan Stone 5 and Harvey Wilson 4.
The C side were entered to gain experience and unsurprisingly found Colebridge A very tough, going down 0-9. Birmingham 2 also looked strong and Lillington fell 2-7. However, a competitive match against Bromsgrove saw them lose 3-6. Nathan Jackson, Deva Bakthisaran and Ollie Endersby will have learnt much from the experience.
Our club is sad to report the death of one of our former members, Paul Whitehead on 4th January 2021. Paul played for the club in both the Coventry and Leamington Leagues during the club’s formative years in the late 70s and early 80s. A lifelong friend of the club’s founder, Phil John, the pair met in Lillington Infants school and their strong friendship continued until present times. Paul enjoyed a very successful career as a secondary teacher in a number of Coventry schools. He was interested in many sports and was a passionate supporter of Coventry City for whom he worked as a volunteer steward. He was a member of Warwickshire County Cricket Club and in recent times was a keen cyclist. It could be argued that his greatest influence on our club was the fact that it was he that introduced Phil to our sport when his Dad, Tom, equipped his garage in Lime Avenue, Lillington, with a table. Paul, Phil and a couple of friends spent many teenage hours learning the sport and improving their level of play. Ultimately, that time led to the birth of our club.
Our club President, Kelly Sibley, started her table tennis journey at our club at the age of 7. This early commitment to our sport, a supportive family (her mum Lynn was a very successful player for us!) and her determination to succeed across two decades saw Kelly become a formidable athlete. Following her many junior titles, she strove to reach the very top, becoming England senior #1 (winning 5 national singles titles), a pillar of the international team, a Commonwealth Games medalist and representing Team GB in the London Olympics.
Having retired from competition, her incredible dedication to our sport now continues as a coach. Along with running Nottingham University's highly successful program and being heavily involved with England youth development, her recent appointment as England Women's Team Coach is surely the ultimate coaching accolade and is so very well deserved. We could not be more proud of her!
We would urge any young girls (and boys), from the local area, who are inspired to follow in Kelly's footsteps to contact our Chairman, Phil John, for more information and begin your own table tennis journey.
You can read what Table Tennis England had to say about the article here.